Whistleblower Alleges Tesla Covered Up Employee's Drug Dealing Ties

By Keri Blakinger 08/20/18

Whistleblower Karl Hansen alleges that raising those concerns to Tesla management was what got him fired in mid-July.

Tesla's Elon Musk
Tesla's Elon Musk Photo via YouTube

Last week, a former Tesla security employee filed an explosive tip with the Securities and Exchange Commission, claiming the company hacked employee cell phones and turned a blind eye to drug dealing and large-scale theft at the Nevada Gigafactory.

Whistleblower Karl Hansen claimed that raising those concerns to Tesla management was what got him fired mid-July, according to The Mercury News. Hansen lodged his complaint with the feds on August 9, according to his attorney Stuart Meissner, of the New York-based firm Meissner Associates. 

The sweeping complaint claims that Tesla spied on its own workers by wiretapping their phones and hacking their computers, including those of another recently axed whistleblower, Martin Tripp. 

Hansen also accused the company of keeping secret the results of its internal probe into a cartel-connected coke- and meth-dealing ring that one employee operated out of the Nevada site, a claim to which the DEA supposedly alerted the company.

On top of that, Hansen alleges that Tesla neglected to disclose information about $37 million worth of raw materials stolen this year, an incident that supposedly led to the firing of another worker who reported it all to police. 

Tesla fired back against the allegations with its own statement, saying the claims were “taken very seriously” when Hansen came forward with them—but ultimately, the company claimed, they couldn’t be proven. 

"Some of his claims are outright false,” the company said, according to a statement published by CNBC. “Others could not be corroborated, so we suggested additional investigative steps to try and validate the information he had received second-hand from a single anonymous source.”

But, Tesla claimed, Hansen refused to keep speaking with the company. 

“It seems strange that Mr. Hansen would claim that he is concerned about something happening within the company,” Tesla added, “but then refuse to engage with the company to discuss the information that he believes he has.”

Elon Musk was more to-the-point in his appraisal of Hansen. 

“This guy is super [nuts],” he wrote in a Twitter DM to a Gizmodo reporter, using the peanut emoji to drive home the point. 

“He is simultaneously saying that our security sucks (it’s not great, but I’m pretty sure we aren’t a branch of the Sinaloa cartel like he claims) and that we have amazing spying ability,” Musk added. “Those can’t both be true.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.